Carillon on Groupon - Is it worth it?
The offer on Groupon today is $25 for $50 at the Carillon. I looked for reviews but the Carillon has only been mentioned here briefly. Someone mentioned it isn't inspired food, but is it at least worth getting the equivalent of a free entree?
What I remember from a delicious meal from their fall menu a couple weeks back in the first week the menu "went live":
- First of all, Carillon's interior is handsome; very Texas. I haven't been so far simply because I couldn't imagine that a place inside something called the, "AT&T executive education center" could have personality. Another plus: open kitchen. I saw the chef, the expediter and one other having a caucus over how my lamb should be plated. They debated this and re-arranged the lamb rib chop lollipops for several minutes.
- Their Olive bread was incredible. Usually, I don't like olives in things. They tend to overpower the taste of everything they are with. So right off the bat when they put olive bread down I decided I could eat around the olives. No need. Somehow, it just all made sense. The olives were the sweetest tasting olives I've ever had. I almost didn't believe what I was tasting. It had an airy crumb, a crisp crust, and a very unique flavor.
I also liked the other type of bread they put down, but I don't remember what kind it was.
For an appetizer I ordered:
ASPARAGUS CAESAR | WHITE ANCHOVY MANCHEGO ARUGULA
What arrived was not what I expected. I expected to see arugula which I love, + asparagus + anchovies + dressed in a caesar + sprinkled with manchego . What arrived was asparagus with anchovies on top plus (what is that called?...) a microgreen / sprouted form of arugula plus the other things. It was beautifully plated, but just not what I expected. PLUS, when I saw the sprouts I thought of all those health warnings that came out in the past couple months about not eating sprouts. I'd guess these are different types of sprouts. But still, I would have ordered the spinach salad (for the poached egg yolk!) if I had known it would not be real arugula.
- My entree was:
BACON POACHED RACK OF LAMB | GREEK YOGURT CUCUMBER RAGOUT CITRUS-MINT SALAD
Ordered this because I am feeling lamb-deprived as I haven't grilled my own beer-mustard marinated lamb lollipops in my big green egg since I don't want a random spark to start a fire under my deck. (we need 1 more really good rain before I grill.)
The lamb was a perfectly cooked medium to my request, very juicy but not fatty. It would have tasted delicious without adornments. The greek yogurt ragout tasted more special than anything I've ever made, and the citrus mint added an interesting zip.
We arrived too late to experience the "A taste of October" tasting menu, $29 5:30pm - 6:30pm. That looks like a steal.
After a I did a quick google to confirm my suspicions, sprouts and microgreens are grown in different environments. Microgreens are allowed to get a bit larger - four leaves usually - and they're grown in dirt. Sprouts only get a leaf or two and are grown hydroponically. Also, I surmise that since microgreens are an expensive luxury ingredient, they're probably grown under much better controlled supervision whereas sprouts are a mass market and therefore cheaper product. Thank the FDA, or not. Either are easily grown at home.
On the subject of the Carillon, that early bird menu is (was) a great deal. I'm sorry I wasn't aware of it. I hope the place succeeds. I hear they're gluten-free friendly, which is a matter of import to me recently.
Careful is good. Bad oysters arean't worth the extra expenditure and I've discovered they're the most accessible kind. And I get the sprouts thing too. Anything grown on a mass market scale has not been properly regulated in a shockingly long time.
As far as I can tell, Bella Verdi Farms is the most common source for microgreens in Austin. They do sprout their stuff hydroponically, but from what I can tell, they're a best practices sort of place. I've seen their stuff at Central Market many times and it always appear to be at the peak of freshness and beautiful.
I'd try my hand at it this fall if only it would rain...
Wanted to chime in--I also haven't heard much about Carillon. I just went here and the service is impeccable (possibly overly attentive for some people) but exactly what my husband and I were looking for. Made reservations in advance.
Hamachi crudo is delicious--4 slices served with currants, a slice of hazelnut and a few shavings of celery with a spicy oil that I can't remember. So many complex flavors in one bite.
Husband ordered the olive oil poached tenderloin. It was tender and the demi-glaze was to die for. I ordered the veal tenderloin that was served with fried sweetbreads and came with crispy brussel sprouts. Both of our entrees were fantastic.
Dessert was chocolate terrine with yes, coriander ice cream and an orange sauce. Chocolate desserts are usually meh for me but the orange sauce added a citrus bite that cuts the rich chocolate. Loved the ice cream.
Husband ordered walnut tart with earl grey ice cream and was not disappointed. Nice soft crunch from walnuts.
It was our anniversary, so we went all out. Pricy but worth it. No Groupon. We'll be back here again. Also I usually lurk but this is my first post, hello Austin Chowhounds! I hope more people will check this place out--it was close to empty when we came here. :(
I bought the more recent $60 Groupon for The Carillon, and we used it last night. We went there just to use the Groupon, not expecting to be totally blown away by the food and service, but we totally were. I think this place has now taken our top seat for non-pretentious, excellent service, great dining in Austin.
We made reservations, which the host chuckled at because when we got there, there was one other table occupied in the entire restaurant. He seated us right in front of the open kitchen where we enjoyed seeing things spring into action as our order went through.
The amuse was a shot of tomato soup with a dollop of green onion puree on top. Hubs and I both ordered the foie gras, which was a VERY rich dish, between the foie, a chunk of croissant, dates, wilted butter lettuce, and some macadamia nut butter. My husband ordered the rack of lamb and I ordered the duck confit, but before they came out, Chris, the chef de cuisine, brought us the nairagi Napoleon to sample since the kitchen was so slow. It was a tartare, excellently paired with a smoky chevre and grapefruit.
Hub ordered his lamb rare and it was perfectly so, served with a creamy risotto. My confit made my eyes roll back in my head. It was served atop sauteed leeks, with a sour cherry sauce on top. Paired with it was a skillet of cannelini beans that were probably the most flavorful beans I've had, and I pride myself on my own beans so that's high praise.
We couldn't let the night end there... dessert for me was cherry bread pudding topped with limoncello ice cream - again, amazing - and hubs got the chocolate terrine with coriander ice cream and cilantro garnish because he's a freak who likes cilantro. The chocolate was extremely rich, and I sampled the ice cream expecting to be hit with a soapy yuck from the coriander, but it actually tasted more like lemon and cardamom to me.
Bill for two folks for three courses and a half bottle of wine was about $150 before tip and before Groupon was applied. Well worth it, even without the Groupon.
It has been a while but my son and I ate there during Austin Restuarant Week and were very favorably impressed with the food. It has been a long time ago in terms of my memory bank but I do recall how impressed we were with it. They also have parking in a garage and if I recall that correctly, you get your parking validated.
BE SURE and make a reservation. When we went somehow the reservation got flubbed and we were told to come on down and we could be seated. When we got there an officious young lady would not seat us. We finally convinced her to let us eat in the bar area which was completely empty. She reluctantly consented. The hostess waited on us and busted her butt trying to make sure we had good service.
OTW, the place is very traditional, maybe even a little on the stuffy side as pertains to decor. But the food was good.